The Economic Burden of Paper

Delphine Wilson| February 10, 2020

Imagine a single piece of paper containing information that helps your business function. 

Whatever that information is, you probably have a sense of what that piece of paper’s lifetime looks like.

That paper will be stored, then accessed, then copied, then restored, accessed, and copied ad infinitum. Then, it’ll be lost, destroyed, or intentionally disposed of. 

In each phase of this lifecycle, there’s an associated cost. 

 

Paper Archives are a Huge Economic Burden to the Average Company

The lifetime cost of paper can fluctuate widely depending on:

  1. The number of people who need to locate the information.
  2. The number of copies that have been made of the information.
  3. The cost of the storage to keep the copies of the information.
  4. Whether the information was lost, destroyed, or intentionally disposed of.
  5. The effort made to manage all of the above.

In the following sections, to give you an idea of how costs quickly spiral out of control, we’ll look at how a typical piece of paper ends up as one piece of a very large economic burden.

 

Storage and Printing Costs

If you store paper with an offsite vendor, you’re keenly aware of the extraordinary number of fees associated with offsite storage. And of course, the cost of removing paper from that offsite archive is just salt in the wound.

Yet even if your archive is stored on-site, you’re giving up valuable office square footage for a fairly low-value purpose. 

In either case, these are just your most visible storage costs. Beneath the surface, there’s more.

Typically, the organizations we work with copy five percent of their paper archive per year. Obviously, there are consumables and equipment depreciation (or leasing) costs. But that’s just the start of it.

 

Miscommunication and Disposal Costs

Further compounding print and storage expenses are the costs of miscommunication and disposal. 

When your organization makes copies, those copies are frequently modified which creates new versions. Usually, these versions are poorly organized. 

These poorly organized versions make it impossible to communicate effectively because no one is certain which version is relevant. And there’s no way to tell other than tracing the paper trail.

So you can either waste time combing through your archives and emails, or make decisions based on outdated information. Either one will cost your company money. 

This lack of version control also makes it impossible to effectively dispose of certain information. More often than not, the solution is to keep all versions to avoid disposing of the wrong one. This, of course, feeds back into storage costs because you’re unnecessarily storing paper you don’t need, and contributing to the chaos.

 

Findability Costs

As you can imagine, all this disorganization leads to huge amounts of time wasted searching for information. McKinsey, a global consultancy, found that interaction workers spend almost 20 percent of their workweek searching for information they need to do their job.

For reference, an “interaction worker” is someone who regularly works with other people and uses their experience and judgment to make complex decisions.

So take a look around at your organization and identify the interaction workers. 20 percent of the salary your organization pays those people is going towards searching for information. Is this an effective use of their time? 

 

You Can Stop Feeding the Paper Mountain

There is good news—with the right approach, you can slash the huge economic burden down to size fairly easily. By converting your paper-based archives into an intelligent digital archive and organizing them in a cloud-based repository, you can solve this problem.

ARC makes the process easy by converting your paper for you and doing all the technical heavy lifting. In the end, you’ll be able to access all your information any time you like, from any location, quickly and securely.

Learn more about how we can help make this happen for you.